PCSSD - 4.5 School Choice

4.5 School Choice

Standard School Choice


The District is under an enforceable desegregation court order/court-approved desegregation plan1 that explicitly limits the transfer of students between school districts and has submitted the appropriate documentation to the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE). As a result of the desegregation order/desegregation plan, the District is exempt from the provisions of the Public School Choice Act of 2015 (Standard School Choice) and the Arkansas Opportunity Public School Choice Act of 2004 (Opportunity School Choice). The District shall notify the superintendents of each of its geographically contiguous school districts of its exemption. The exemption prohibits the District from accepting any school choice applications from students wishing to transfer into or out of the District through standard School Choice or Opportunity School Choice.


"Sibling" means each of two (2) or more children having a parent in common by blood, adoption, marriage, or foster care.

Transfers into the District

Capacity Determination and Public Pronouncement

The Board of Directors will adopt a resolution containing the capacity standards for the District. The resolution will contain the acceptance determination criteria identified by academic program, class, grade level, and individual school. The school is not obligated to add any teachers, other staff, or classrooms to accommodate choice applications. The District may only deny a Standard School Choice application if the District has a lack of capacity by the District having reached ninety percent (90%) of the maximum student population in a program, class, grade level, or school building authorized by the Standards or other State/Federal law.

The District shall advertise in appropriate broadcast media and either print media or on the Internet to inform students and parents in adjoining districts of the range of possible openings available under the School Choice program. The public pronouncements shall state the application deadline and the requirements and procedures for participation in the program. Such pronouncements shall be made in the spring, but in no case later than March 1.

Application Process

The student's parent shall submit a school choice application on a form approved by ADE to this District. The transfer application must be postmarked or hand delivered on or before May 1 of the year preceding the fall semester the applicant would begin school in the District. The District shall date and time stamp all applications as they are received in the District's central office. It is the District’s responsibility to send a copy of the application that includes the date and time stamp to the student’s resident district within ten (10) days of the District receiving the application.7 Applications postmarked or hand delivered on or after May 2 will not be accepted. Statutorily, preference is required to be given to siblings of students who are already enrolled in the District. Therefore, siblings whose applications fit the capacity standards approved by the Board of Directors may be approved ahead of an otherwise qualified non-sibling applicant who submitted an earlier application as identified by the application's date and time stamp.

The approval of any application for a choice transfer into the District is potentially limited by the applicant's resident district's statutory limitation of losing no more than three percent (3%) of its past year's student enrollment due to Standard School Choice. As such, any District approval of a choice application prior to July 1 is provisional pending a determination that the resident district's three percent (3%) cap has not been reached.

The Superintendent will consider all properly submitted applications for School Choice. By July 1, the Superintendent shall notify the parent and the student’s resident district, in writing, of the decision to accept or reject the application.

Accepted Applications

Applications which fit within the District's stated capacity standards shall be provisionally accepted, in writing, with the notification letter stating a reasonable timeline by which the student shall enroll in the District by taking the steps detailed in the letter, including submission of all required documents. If the student fails to enroll within the stated timeline, or if all necessary steps to complete the enrollment are not taken, or examination of the documentation indicates the applicant does not meet the District's stated capacity standards, the acceptance shall be null and void.8

A student, whose application has been accepted and who has enrolled in the District, is eligible to continue enrollment until completing his/her secondary education. Continued enrollment is conditioned upon the student meeting applicable statutory and District policy requirements. Any student who has been accepted under choice and who either fails to initially enroll under the timelines and provisions provided in this policy; who chooses to return to his/her resident district; or who enrolls in a home school or private school voids the transfer and must reapply if, in the future, the student seeks another school choice transfer. A subsequent transfer application will be subject to the capacity standards applicable to the year in which the application is considered by the District.

A present or future sibling of a student who continues enrollment in this District may enroll in the District by submitting a Standard School Choice application. Applications of siblings of presently enrolled choice students are subject to the provisions of this policy including the capacity standards applicable to the year in which the sibling's application is considered by the District. A sibling who enrolls in the District through Standard School Choice is eligible to remain in the District until completing his/her secondary education.

Students whose applications have been accepted and who have enrolled in the district shall not be discriminated against on the basis of gender, national origin, race, ethnicity, religion, or disability.

Rejected Applications

The District may reject an application for a transfer into the District under Standard School Choice due to a lack of capacity. However, the decision to accept or reject an application may not be based on the student’s previous academic achievement, athletic or other extracurricular ability, English proficiency level, or previous disciplinary proceedings other than a current expulsion.

An application may be provisionally rejected if it is for an opening that was included in the District's capacity resolution, but was provisionally filled by an earlier applicant. If the provisionally approved applicant subsequently does not enroll in the District, the provisionally rejected applicant could be provisionally approved and would have to meet the acceptance requirements to be eligible to enroll in the District.

Rejection of applications shall be in writing and shall state the reason(s) for the rejection. A student whose application was rejected may request a hearing before the State Board of Education to reconsider the application which must be done, in writing to the State Board within ten (10) days of receiving the rejection letter from the District.

Any applications that are denied due to the student’s resident district reaching the three percent (3%) limitation cap shall be given priority for a choice transfer the following year in the order that the District received the original applications.

Transfers Out of the District

All Standard School Choice applications shall be granted unless the approval would cause the District to have a net enrollment loss (students transferring out minus those transferring in) of more than three percent (3%) of the average daily membership on October 15 of the immediately preceding year. By December 15 of each year, ADE shall determine and notify the District of the net number of allowable choice transfers. Students are not counted for the purpose of determining the three percent (3%) cap if the student transfers from a school or district in:

  • Academic Distress or classified as in need of Level 5 Intensive Support under A.C.A. § 6-18-227;

  • Facilities Distress under A.C.A. § 6-21-812; or

  • Foster Child School Choice under A.C.A. § 6-18-233.

If, prior to July 1, the District receives sufficient copies of requests from other districts for its students to transfer to other districts to trigger the three percent (3%) cap, it shall notify each district the District received Standard School Choice applications from that it has tentatively reached the limitation cap. The District will use confirmations of approved choice applications from receiving districts to make a final determination of which applications it received that exceeded the limitation cap and notify each district that was the recipient of an application to that effect.

When the last successful application requesting to transfer out of the District before the District’s three percent (3%) cap was triggered belonged to an individual who was a member of a group of siblings who applied to transfer out of the District, the District shall allow all members of the individual’s sibling group to transfer out of the District even though these applications are beyond the District’s transfer cap.

Facilities Distress School Choice Applications

There are a few exceptions from the provisions of the rest of this policy that govern choice transfers triggered by facilities distress. Any student attending a school district that has been identified as being in facilities distress may transfer under the provisions of this policy, but with the following four (4) differences.

  • The receiving district cannot be in facilities distress;

  • The transfer is only available for the duration of the time the student's resident district remains in distress;

  • The student is not required to meet the June 1 application deadline; and

  • The student's resident district is responsible for the cost of transporting the student to this District's school.

Opportunity School Choice

Transfers Into or Within the District

For the purposes of this section of the policy, a “lack of capacity” is defined as when the receiving school has reached the maximum student-to-teacher ratio allowed under federal or state law, the ADE Rules for the Standards of Accreditation, or other applicable rules. There is a lack of capacity if, as of the date of the application for Opportunity School Choice, ninety-five percent (95%) or more of the seats at the grade level at the nonresident school are filled.

Unless there is a lack of capacity at the District’s school or the transfer conflicts with the provisions of a federal desegregation order applicable to the District, a student who is enrolled in or assigned to a school classified by the ADE to be in academic distress or in a district classified by ADE as in need of Level 5 Intensive Support is eligible to transfer to the school closest to the student’s legal residence that is not in academic distress or in a district classified as in need of Level 5 Intensive Support. The student’s parent or guardian, or the student if over the age of eighteen (18), must successfully complete the necessary application process by July 30 preceding the initial year of desired enrollment.

Within thirty (30) days from receipt of an application from a student seeking admission under this section of the policy, the Superintendent shall notify in writing the parent or guardian, or the student if the student is over eighteen (18) years of age, whether the Opportunity School Choice application has been accepted or rejected. The notification shall be sent via First-Class Mail to the address on the application.

If the application is accepted, the notification letter shall state the deadline by which the student must enroll in the receiving school or the transfer will be null and void.

If the District rejects the application, the District shall state in the notification letter the specific reasons for the rejection.13 A parent or guardian, or the student if the student is over eighteen (18) years of age, may appeal the District’s decision to deny the application to the State Board of Education. The appeal must be in writing to the State Board of Education via certified mail, return receipt requested, no later than ten (10) calendar days, excluding weekends and legal holidays, after the notice of rejection was received from the District.

A student’s enrollment under Opportunity School Choice is irrevocable for the duration of the school year and is renewable until the student completes high school or is beyond the legal age of enrollment. This provision for continuing eligibility under Opportunity School Choice does not negate the student's right to apply for transfer to a district other than the student's assigned school or resident district under the Standard School Choice provisions of this policy.

The District may, but is not obligated to provide transportation to and from the transferring district.

Transfers out of, or within, the District

If a District school has been classified by the ADE as being in academic distress or the District has been classified by ADE as in need of Level 5 Intensive Support, the District shall timely notify the parent, guardian, or student, if the student is over eighteen (18) years of age, as soon as practicable after the academic distress or in need of Level 5 Intensive Support designation is made of all options available under Opportunity School Choice. The District shall offer the parent or guardian, or the student if the student is over eighteen (18) years of age, an opportunity to enroll the student in any public school or school district that has not been classified by the ADE as a public school in academic distress or school district in need of Level 5 Intensive Support.

Additionally, the District shall request public service announcements to be made over the broadcast media and in the print media at such times and in such a manner as to inform parents or guardians of students in adjoining districts of the availability of the program, the application deadline, and the requirements and procedure for nonresident students to participate in the program.

Unsafe School Choice Program

Any student that becomes the victim of a violent criminal offense while in or on the grounds of a District school or who is attending a school classified by ADE as a persistently dangerous public school shall be allowed to attend a safe public school within the District.



Legal References:

  • A.C.A. § 6-1-106
  • A.C.A. § 6-13-113
  • A.C.A. § 6-15-2915
  • A.C.A. § 6-18-227
  • A.C.A. § 6-18-233
  • A.C.A.  §6-18-320
  • A.C.A. § 6-18-510
  • A.C.A. § 6-18-1901 et seq.
  • A.C.A. § 6-21-812
  • ADE Rules Governing the Guidelines, Procedures and Enforcement of the Arkansas Opportunity Public School Choice Act

Date Adopted:  10/10/72


  • 03/11/14
  • 08/11/15
  • 10/16/17

Last Revised:  04/04/18